Wilton plans for distribution success

Regular slotting ensures the efficient movement of product and orders through Wilton’s DC.

By ·

Wilton Products, Inc., Romeoville, Ill.

Products: Housewares, food crafting, scrapbooking, and other craft products

Size: 691,000 sq ft in Romeoville, 1.7 million sq ft company-wide

SKUs: 11,000

Throughput: 80,000 lines picked per day

Employees: 210 employees

Shifts: 2 shifts, 5 days

Order fulfillment processes operations at Wilton’s Romeoville facility are the result of careful upfront planning and design, augmented by regular re-slotting of products to maintain efficiency. Picking processes are augmented by warehouse control (WCS) and management systems (WMS) and a conveyor and sortation system. 

Receiving & put away: The facility receives eight to nine containers a day, most from overseas. A purchase order for each container is resident in the WMS. Product received is compared against the purchase order(s) for accuracy. Meanwhile, a percentage of the received product is sent to a quality assurance area for inspection.  Using a carton scanning system, the cartons are weighed and cubed. That information is ultimately used by the WMS to direct pallets for optimal put away. Once a pallet is built, a license plate barcode is affixed to the pallet, which is delivered by lift truck or walkie to a staging area. After the pallet is put away in one of several bulk storages areas via a narrow aisle turret truck the license plate is scanned into a put away location enabling the product to be available for order fulfillment.

Order Planning:  The WMS groups customers orders into shipments based on weight and cube information and prints out picking labels and a packing list.

Replenishment: Batches of work are planned one to two days in advance of when the picking will take place. If the inventory levels in the three forward pick modules are below safety stock levels, the WMS generates replenishment orders. Pallets and cases are picked from the bulk storage areas and delivered to the picking modules, where re-stockers scan barcode labels on the product and the picking location. The product is now available in the WMS for picking from that location.

Picking: Once the picking modules have been replenished with stock the picking process begins. When the cartons are ready for pick processing, an order starter puts a shipping label on a carton and inducts it onto the conveyor line for picking (In one pick module, elevators are used as a space-saving measure to deliver cartons to the second or third levels for picking). A picker in the module scans the barcode label on the carton with a wrist-mounted scanner. The system then directs the picker to the items to be picked from that area. The product is then scanned to ensure accuracy. When the final pick for a zone has been completed, the carton is placed back on the conveyor and delivered to the next zone. The conveyor system uses transfer tables to direct the cartons to different zones within a pick module. Once the final pick has been completed within a pick module, it’s placed on a takeaway conveyor that delivers it to another pick module where the picking process is completed. Once a carton is complete, it’s delivered to the shipping sorter.

Shipping: After picking, cartons are conveyed to lines to be packed, taped, weighed, and scanned.  Cartons are then diverted by a sliding shoe sorter to the correct shipping line based on the shipping method. Parcel shipments are loaded directly into trailers. LTL shipments are palletized and staged. Completed orders are then loaded onto an outbound truck. When all the cartons or pallets for an order have been loaded at the shipping area, a bill of lading is assigned to the order and it’s confirmed for shipment in the WMS.

Wilton puts icing on the distribution center cake
After a merger, Wilton Products consolidated its distribution processes in a redesigned DC that nearly tripled throughput.



About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.

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